Whether you’re swooning over beaches in the Seychelles or dreaming of city life in New York, these 11 incredible aerial photographs will inspire your wanderlust. Gain a different perspective as you look down on the landmarks from above, and we’ll tell you how to recreate that perfect aerial shot.
Getting a different perspective can sometimes make all the difference. From amazing places you won’t believe exist to creepy natural wonders and breathtaking views, these 11 aerial shots might just be the tipping point to booking that adventure you’ve always dreamed of. We’re hitting up New York City before zipping to Beijing and popping to the Zambezi. Don’t look down if you’re scared of heights.
1. Central Park, New York City
New York City is famous for its stunning views (think the Empire State or Top of the Rock) but one that comes unparalleled is the view of Central Park. The area became a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and with a total of 843 acres to its name, it’s not hard to see the appeal. The park lies in the heart of Manhattan and holds claim to the title of the most visited urban park in the US, as well as being one of the most filmed locations in the world.
To appreciate the beauty of the park why not join a Central Park Photography Tour. We can’t promise any aerial shots, but the park has just as many beautiful locations close to the ground to get snapping. If that aerial shot really is calling your name, stay in a hotel like the Residence Inn by Marriott New York Manhattan/Central Park. Boasting modern rooms with views over Central Park, Times Square, Hudson River, or the city, your next photography venture is set to be stunning.
2. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park
The Grand Prismatic Spring stands at 370 feet across and is a terrifying 121 feet deep, making it the largest hot spring in North America. The stunning colors come from bacteria in the water, which change in hue depending on the temperature. Most tours of the spring will take you along the wooden boardwalk, but arguably the best view comes from above. For aerial views, you should climb one of the hills just outside the spring such as Midway Bluff.
If you want to stay nearby when you visit the spring, the Yellowstone West Gate Hotel sits just five blocks from the entrance of Yellowstone National Park, and 45 minutes from the spring itself. The hotel offers a hot tub and indoor pool, so whilst taking a dip in the spring might not be a good idea, you will still be able to have a soak after a busy day.
3. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
This is one aerial view that you can capture yourself fairly easily. Horseshoe Bend is a short walk from the car park on Highway 89, the southern section of which connects Flagstaff, Arizona, to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The area around Horseshoe Bend is known to get pretty crowded on public holidays and on days when the weather is nice, so try and time your visit to arrive early or later in the day before the sunsets.
Stay in the Motel 6 Page which is a five-minute drive from the Horseshoe Bend car park. Or stay nearby in Sedona where you can drive up to Horseshoe Bend in a couple of hours. Alternatively, tie your visit in with a road trip from Tucson or Las Vegas, which are both between four and five hours away.
4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Highlighted as one of the world’s most breathtaking views and topping our list of must-do’s on a budget trip to San Francisco, it’s safe to say we’re no strangers to the attraction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Looking just as stunning from the ground as it does from above, the only way of seeing the bridge like this is from the skies, so take a Seaplane Tour if you want that aerial view.
If you’re not up for forking out close to $150 to see the bridge from above, you can walk across it for free. The 1.7-mile walk will still provide you with stunning views, but you’ll be overshadowed by the bridge rather than the other way around.
5. Victoria Falls, Zambezi River
Another one on our most breathtaking views list, there is no denying the sheer beauty of the Victoria Falls, especially looking down on them from such a height above. Visitors can take a helicopter tour over the falls to capture these awe-inspiring views, or simply navigate the path themselves for a more up-close-and-personal approach.
The Victoria Falls Backpackers Lodge makes a great budget stay for those splurging on a helicopter tour, but for a more modern stay, the Zambezi River Lodge serves a full English breakfast and offers a free shuttle from Victoria Falls Airport.
6. Guomao Bridge, Beijing
The Guomao Bridge was known as the Dabeiyao Overpass until 1985, and due to its location in Beijing’s financial district, it is often incredibly congested. Whilst this view may not make you want to jump in your car and join the throng of traffic, the beauty of the buzzing metropolis of Beijing at nighttime is certainly a sight to behold. Home to 21 and a half million people, Beijing’s combination of ancient sites and modern hangouts go partway towards explaining the city’s charm.
Stay in the five-star Park Hyatt Beijing and look down for that perfect aerial view of the Guomao Bridge. For views of Beijing itself, head to Jingshan Park where 360-degree views of the city are ready and waiting.
7. Lake Öskjuvatn and Lake Víti, Iceland
For the brave (or foolhardy) visit Lake Öskjuvatn and Lake Víti in Iceland. Öskjuvatn is the larger of the two and was previously the deepest lake in Iceland with a depth of 217m, however, it has now been overtaken by the Jökulsárlón lagoon. Both lakes were formed in 1875 following a volcanic eruption and Víti is now popular with tourists for bathing.
If bathing in a hot spring doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, why not fly over the lakes in an Iceland Highland tour instead, which covers not only the Askja Caldera where the two lakes are based but also many other craters and mountain ranges, including the Vatnajokull Glacier which is home to stunning ice caves.
8. Bright Angel Hiking Trail, Grand Canyon
The Bright Angel Hiking Trail is a two-hour drive from Sedona and is considered to be the Grand Canyon’s premier hiking trail. It is well-maintained and as such is the safest trail in the Grand Canyon National Park. The trail benefits from regular water and rest stops, and has rangers at the halfway point and at the start of the trail.
To be in with a chance of snapping an aerial shot like the one above, take a tour of the iconic sights on the South Rim, which includes the Bright Angel Trail. If you want to hike the trail, you will have to descend 4,500 feet to Indian Garden and then down to the bottom of the canyon at the Bright Angel Campground.
9. La Digue, Seychelles
The island of La Digue is the third largest inhabited island of Seychelles. Its beaches are credited as being some of the best in the world, with pure white sands and coral reefs swelling with fish. Whilst the aerial views will be difficult to recreate yourself, reams of golden sands and clear seas offer plenty of other stunning views to capture your attention.
To get to Seychelles, fly to Mahe with Etihad Airways then take a speed ferry to La Digue. The ferry runs between Mahe and Praslin and then onto La Digue, which takes around an hour and occasionally gives lucky travelers the chance to see dolphins and flying fish. There are plenty of beach-side places to stay in La Digue, and we recommend La Repaire. It’s a 20-minute walk from the ferry port and just one minute from the beach with plenty of ocean view rooms.
10. Hoover Dam, Nevada
Sitting less than 45 minutes from Las Vegas is Hoover Dam (also known as Boulder Dam). Opened in 1935, the dam was built in an effort to tame the Colorado River and provide water and hydroelectric power to the Southwest. It now distributes water to the likes of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix and generates enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes. The dam is a popular tourist attraction, reeling in 7 million people every year.
To get aerial views of the dam, take a helicopter ride over the top of it, or for a closer view drive over the Hoover Dam Bypass on Route 93. You can also drive over the dam itself but the view is blocked by walls, so we suggest taking the bypass.
11. Canadian Rockies, Canada
The Canadian Rockies span British Columbia and Alberta and are a region of lakes, wildlife, and open spaces for recreation. To get amazing aerial views like these, take a helicopter tour from your hotel in Banff where you will soar over Bow Valley, Mt. Lougheed, and Wind Mountain as well as glaciers and mountain passes. Of course, there are plenty of other things to keep you busy in The Rockies too; from horseback riding and dog sledding to ice climbing and snowshoeing.